Guardian of Water

UNICEF trained her and she has been effectively coordinating the administration of water to people. She works diligently and her strong work ethic has made her very popular.

UNICEF Nigeria
filling-a-container-with-clean-water
UNICEF Nigeria/2018

08 June 2018

8 July 2018 - “When our town, Baga, was attacked by the insurgents, many were killed and our houses were completely destroyed. Six of us managed to escape with only the clothes on our backs,” Kaltume recalls with tears running down on her face. 56-year old Kaltume, her husband and their four children ran into the bush and trekked on foot for more than 20 kilometers until they found some help. They were rescued by the military, brought to Maiduguri town, and then moved to the Elmiskin camp for the internally displaced.

The camp has been home for Kaltume and her family for two years now.

As part of UNICEF’s support to the camp of more than 3000 internally displaced people, two solar powered water pumps were installed to provide safe water for consumption and domestic use. Coincidentally, the water source was installed right in front of Kaltume’s shelter. Kaltume volunteered to take care of it.

UNICEF trained her and she has been effectively coordinating the administration of water to people. She works diligently and her strong work ethic has made her very popular.

clean-water-point
UNICEF Nigeria/2018
Kaltume helps to administer clean and safe water to the people living in the camp.

“She is a remarkable woman, always ready to help, and we respect her immensely for all the hard work she puts in and the untiring service we all benefit from,” says Hauwa, one of the people living in the camp.

“We initially agreed that people could fetch water from 6am to 6pm but it became evident pretty quickly that this would not work as many people need water beyond the set hours. There is a 24-hour demand and I am happy to serve when I am needed,” explains Kaltume proudly. 

Kaltume does not allow anyone else operate the pump as she fears that it might be mishandled or mismanaged, leading to damaging of the pump. She has trained her daughters to support her in operating the pump and water supply to ensure water can be fetched at any time.

woman-operating-water-supply-equipment
UNICEF Nigeria/2018
Kaltume was trained by UNICEF to maintain and operate the water source.

Kaltume’s husband, Haruna Ali, encourages her and talks about how her good work is appreciated across the camp. “I am so pleased that she can help people access clean water when the need arises,” he says. “I know that she is happy to provide this voluntary service.”

“I have the pleasure of seeing people appreciate the work I am doing – and I want to thank UNICEF and CIDAR Nigeria for installing this water source. It has made our lives better by reducing the distance that we previously needed to cover and the time we needed to spend looking for water,” Kaltume notes. “As for me, I am willing to provide this support while I am here and for as long as my services are requested by the others living in the camp.”

UNICEF works to provide clean water, basic toilets and to encourage basic hygiene practices across the conflict-stricken Borno State in northeast Nigeria. The installation of the borehole is part of UNICEF’s broader support to Elmiskin camp, funded by Central Emergency Response Fund.